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Karna’s Wife A tale of a woman who married an “Outcast”

Updated on March 16, 2020
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MG Singh- early retired Airforce senior officer who is now a corporate advisor. He is also a global traveler and writer

Karna the warrior
Karna the warrior

Background

Karna is one of the great characters of the Mahabharata war. This epic was written between 4000-5000 BC, making it almost the oldest epic in the world. The Mahabharat relates that Karna was born an illegitimate son of the Queen Kunti and was abandoned by her. As per the story, the great sage Durvasha was pleased with her devoted service. He granted her a boon by teaching a mantra. He told Queen Kunti when she was unmarried that "you can call any God with the help of this mantra and have a son from him". Though still, a virgin Kunti invoked the mantra and the sun God appeared and cohabited with her. This led to the birth of Karna, who was born illegitimate. Kunti was frightened and she set adrift the young child in a small boat. The child was rescued by a charioteer, who brought him up.

Karna thus, though born a Kshatriya had to endure being a lower caste. He was however possessed of great strength and skill in weaponry and though classified as a lower caste could beat the best of the Kshatriya warriors. He came to know his origin when his mother met him before the Mahabharata war and asked him to join his brothers. He had 5 brothers known as the Pandavas.

Karna was on the horns of a dilemma, yet his loyalty to Duryodhana the Kaurava prince prevailed and he refused to side with the Pandavas, but he promised not to kill any of the Pandavas except Arjuna, who he felt has usurped his right.

Karna at the Swayamvara of Draupadi


Karna appeared at the swayamvara of Draupadi and the princes all around were in awe at his prowess. Later Draupadi confessed that she would have liked Karna as a husband in case he had won. Unfortunately, the Pandavas raised the issue of caste and debarred Karna from the swayamvara. Karna was humiliated and sent away and in his absence, Arjuna won Draupadi. From that day onwards Karna was a sworn enemy of Arjuna.

The Kaurava prince Duryodhana gave succor to Karna and took him under his patronage. He was thus forever beholden to the Kaurava prince, who was the enemy of the Pandavas.

Karna’s Wife


Karna remained an outcast, yet the princess Uruvi fell in love with him. She was the second wife of Karna, but she was a strong-willed princess and in due course became the primary anchor in Karna’s highly turbulent life.

Uruvi was the only daughter of the King of Pukeya. She defied all social norms and traditions to garland the person she loved – Karna, a near social outcast and a charioteer’s son. Being the wife of Karna was not easy and Uruvi faced resentment from all the people who’ve ever loved her. That Karna who had pledged his loyalties to the Kaurava prince Duryodhana did not ameliorate the situation.

Raised in absolute royalty and pampered throughout her life by a doting father, Uruvi found herself facing many challenging situations, some that even tended to shatter her faith in the man she loved the most. But having gone against family and society, she now had to live her choice for the sake of her unborn child.

Time with Karna


As horrific events leading up to the famous war of Kurukshetra begin to unravel, Uruvi braced herself for what was to be her final destiny. Resigning to the fact that breaking her husband’s resolve is not an option, she busied herself in her homely duties, tending to wounded soldiers and being Karna’s strength for the few years she knew they will be together. She was aware as forecast by astrologers that Karna would be killed by a ruse. There was nothing she could do and she could not dissuade Karana not to fight the Pandavas.

Karna the Man


Karna is the central character of the Mahabharata. A righteous man, a valiant warrior, a loyal friend, a dedicated and loving husband, an ideal son and an unsung hero. Karna was a man of his word and though on many occasions he defeated the Pandava brothers like Bhīma, he spared their life as he had promised his mother Kunte that he will kill only one Pandava and that too only Arjuna. He had prophetically said that come what may either I or Arjuna will die and you will still have 5 sons.

Karna for all his prowess and piety remains a man with a black mark in the Mahabharata. His silence when Draupadi was being bared in front of the entire court is something nobody has been able to explain. Here was a warrior whose prowess was well known yet he was sitting like a dud when the princess Draupadi's sari was being removed. It was only Lord Krishna who intervened and saved the Princess.

Uruvi

The princess was aware that Karna would die, not in a straight battle but by a ruse. She had tried to dissuade Karna from joining Duryodhana, but Karna remained loyal to him and though knowing that he was under a curse went into battle despite the entreaty of his wife.

Urvi is one of the unsung heroines of the Mahabharata and her role is not glorified. But she was a great part of Karna and she loved him. When she came to know he was a Kshatriya, she wanted to announce to the world, but Karna forbade her and as a loyal wife she acquiesced. Urvi’s is a tragic tale, but a poignant reminder that women have great inherent strength.

Killing of Karna.


The Mahabharata tells us that Karna in battle with Arjuna in single combat defeated him again and again and in all probability would have won and killed him. But during the battle, his chariot sank in the mud and at that time Arjuna killed him by a ruse. As the chariot sank in the sand Karana appealed to Arjuna." Look, warrior, my chariot has sunk in the sand. Spare a moment that I can pull it out and then I shall give you battle."

Arjuna was inclined to agree but his charioteer Lord Krishna told him, "it is his karma. He is now without weapons and the best time to kill him."

Arjuna fired a string of arrows that hit Karna while he was pulling the stuck wheel from the sand. He died.

Perhaps it was poetic justice for his crime of allowing a princess to be made naked in front of the court and his acquiescence of the same.

Karna was killed but poor Urvi was left forlorn and alone. She chose Karna despite his being an outcast, yet paid a terrible price for her selection. Not much stress is laid on Urvi the wife of Karna in the Mahabharata but there is no doubt that she suffered a lot because of the blind faith of Karnaa in Duryodhana. As Lord Krishna said it was perhaps the karma of Karna that caught up with him.

Do you think Karna got justice in his life ?

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Comments

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    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      5 months ago from Singapore

      Thank you Sankhajit, for sparing time and commenting

    • Sankhajit Bhattacharjee profile image

      Sankhajit Bhattacharjee 

      5 months ago from MILWAUKEE

      very beautifully depicted...

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      6 months ago from Singapore

      Thank you Anyway. Great to interact with you.

    • Anupam Mitu profile image

      Anupam Mitu 

      6 months ago from MUMBAI

      Thank you so much for this. Added that to my list on priority.

      Lots of love and blessings

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      6 months ago from Singapore

      You may like to read, Karna's Wife: The Outcast's Queen by Kavita Kane. So sweet of you to have commented.

    • Anupam Mitu profile image

      Anupam Mitu 

      6 months ago from MUMBAI

      Thank you so much dear for this story. Though I have read Mahabharat and Bhagwata but wasn't aware of this part of the story. Urvi too must be as strong as Karna. They were really made for each other. Whenever I read Rashmirathi by Dinkar, I fall in love with this character.

      I would like to read more about Urvi, can you please suggest?

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      7 months ago from Singapore

      Dr.Pran Rangan, Thank you for your comment. Glad you liked the article.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      7 months ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Well written story. Almost all Indians know about Karna of the Mahabharata. But few know about the tale of his wife. Thanks for sharing, MG Singh.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      7 months ago from Singapore

      Gilbert, thank you for commenting. Yes sir, the Krishna of the Mahabharata is the same Krishna of the organisation called ISKON which these film star followed and many still do.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      7 months ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      MG, considering it's a very old tale, Karna drew my interest. I think the story you present may have inspired other similar mythical plots through the ages. By the way, the Lord Krishna in the story, is he the same Krishna of a religious organization, George Harrison, from The Beatles, followed?

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      13 months ago from Singapore

      Thank you Dreamer Meg for commenting.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 

      13 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Very interesting story. There are a great many great tales that come out of India.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you Devika, nice that you read this post and commented

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      You enlightened me on another different topic. This is a learning lesson for me.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      Hari, you are a great inspiration. Thank you for commenting and your suggestion.

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 

      4 years ago from Bangalore

      Karna is a character to sympathize yet beware of wrong doing leads to path of destruction. Some people are choosen to be so for the sake of complex dimensions of our lifes which are not always white or black but grey. I also voted, yes, with all sympathy. Very nice story and keep digging such lost characters like urvi for us. May be duryodhana too was so for a purpose and there were many characteristics about him which are not aware of. Pls write about him too.

      - Hari

    • kri500 profile image

      Dr K N Bastola FRCS 

      4 years ago

      You have used the word mythology and relied on the cast system for your article.

      Please wait for an article on this site on the differences between the verna system of Hinduism and the cast system that is practiced in your country, India.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      5 years ago from london

      Thank you, thank you, and yours, my Friend. Keep it up. Continue ... Hari Om Tat Sat!!

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you Manatita for such a sweet comment. This shows the beauty of your mind

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      5 years ago from london

      I wrote yes with great sadness in my Heart as I really loved Karna. You are such a loving writer, and have done him great justice here.

      My Guru taught that when one duty classes with another, the greater should always be embraced and so Karna should have taken Sri Krishna's side. Still, you already know, I'm sure, that there were many forces involved in this war.

      The old order had to go to usher in the new. One feels that Karna knew this, but felt duty bound to fight. We are all the victims of our Dharma. It dances on our foreheads. Who knows the ways of the Lord?

      A supreme and brilliantly written Hub, my friend. Higher blessings.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Yes Madu, Karna had only ONE friend and that was Duryodhun

    • 10000001 profile image

      madugundu krishna 

      5 years ago from Yemmiganur

      Karna was a great person in Mahabharat. He was very faith on Duryodhana.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you Vasantha for commenting

    • vasantha  T k profile image

      vasantha T k 

      5 years ago from Bangalore

      Interesting , to know about the story of Urvi, karna's wife. Thanks for sharing.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you Dr Pran for your comment

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      5 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Nice write up about Karna's wife. Thanks for sharing.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you Chitra for commenting. LOL

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Nice and interesting hub!

      Its so amazing that I have not read about Karna's wife anywhere, although we know about Mahabharata from beginning till end.

      Thanks for sharing this informative hub! Very well done and voted up!

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you for a lovely comment. Yes, Karna is one of the tragic heroes of Hindu mythology

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      5 years ago from Philippines

      This is a rich, lovely story and I am so grateful that you wrote it on Hub Pages. It reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, except they married and he died long after. I think you also wrote this story very well:)

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